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BENTON HARBOR — Tests done on the drinking water at Benton Harbor Area Schools came back as safe to drink, school officials announced Friday.

Superintendent Andrae Townsel said in a Facebook post that the school district hired Villa Environmental Consultants to test the drinking water for lead in all six school buildings.

Townsel said last week that he decided to have the water tested due to the quality of Benton Harbor’s water being called into question over the past few weeks.

Until the results came back, he said the water faucets for drinking were all turned off “out of an abundance of caution.”

Meanwhile, Townsel said students and staff were being given bottled water to drink.

Benton Harbor has been under a state advisory for lead since October 2018, when routine sampling found higher-than-acceptable levels of lead in some of the city’s tap water.

Then-Superintendent Robert Herrera had all water fixtures tested and found that five exceeded the federal action level of 15 parts per billion for lead. He had those replaced along with another 20 water fixtures that tested as exceeding the state’s voluntary water standard of 5 ppb.

Water system update

Following last week’s water main break, Benton Harbor officials announced the city’s water system is back to normal operations and testing shows no evidence of bacteria contamination.

After extensive flushing of the system to remove any contaminants that may have entered during the water main break, two rounds of testing from several locations confirmed the water is bacteriologically safe.

Residents are still advised to use bottled water until further notice for cooking, drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, rinsing foods and for mixing infant formula.

Now that water pressure is restored, city officials are asking residents to flush the water taps for five minutes.

The water may have discoloration following the main break.

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege

Staff Writer at The Herald-Palladium